Publication of Brief Catholicae Fidei – Partial restoration
Today, 213 years ago, we remember a decisive moment in the re-emergence of the Society of Jesus. Less than a year after his election as Pope, Pius VII put into writing what his predecessor had only been prepared to say orally. He approved, canonically, the existence of the Jesuits in Russia. By publishing this in a Brief, Pius VII, was making a bold and determined step in favour of the Society of Jesus. It gave hope to many and also provoked uproar in others too. The Spanish ambassador immediately warned the Pope of the grave evils that would come about because of this.
Fr Francis Kareu SJ, based in Belarus, hitherto had been a vicar general, was now the general of the Society of Jesus, albeit with his authority at the moment limited to Russia – it wasn’t until 1814 that Fr Brzozowski would be called the Superior General of the Universal Society. The effects of the Brief were twofold – a wave of petitions swept into Polotsk, Belarus from individuals and groups who wished to be affiliated with the Jesuits in Russia and secondly a new zeal entered the Jesuits there, who had been somewhat in limbo.
For a whole generation of men, who were now in the evening of their lives, their prayers had been answered like Simeon at the temple. These men who in their hearts and minds had never really left the Society, were aware of a new dawn rising in Russia. Giants like Fr Pignatelli who would soon be appointed Provincial of Italy and Fr Marmaduke Stone in England had their restrictions released. Bishop John Carroll would be asked to appoint a superior of the Jesuits in America – a Fr Molyneaux.
The full text of the Brief in English & in Latin is now available on this website (underneath the Time Line tab on the Home Page) . Click here to read it in English